“Oh, come on, Hayley,” Emilio said. “Here, I’ll teach you.”
He taught me the perfect position for my fingers, and I tossed a perfect spiral to a writer.
Now, I can’t say I’m a professional baller these days, but I can throw a mean pass. And whenever anyone tells me I have a good arm, I say, “Thanks. Emilio Estevez taught me.”
In 2006, when I was 15, my dad got a job as the unit production manager for Grey’s Anatomy. Every time I’d walk on set, the actors would say hello, wish me a good day, and even engage in friendly conversation. My dad was working on a hit show. I was standing next to him and shaking hands with people we all saw on TV every week.
One night, the cast put on a charity show called Good Medicine at UCLA’s Royce Hall. All the big names were there. It was the cast from Grey’s as well as its sister show, Private Practice. But my dad and I walked the red carpet. We snapped photos with Katherine Heigl. Justin Chambers asked me how school was going. Chyler Leigh and Chris Lowell wanted to take a picture, and Taye Diggs was upset when he realized he was too late to get in the shot.
It’s fun to go back and visit. Los Angeles will always be my home. I try to hang out on set with my dad for a while. The stages at Prospect Studios feel like another home to me. Most of the cast recognizes me and says hello.
Most kids receive calls from grandparents, aunts, and uncles on their birthday. In the middle of my 16th-birthday dinner, surrounded by ten of my closest friends, my phone rang and on the other line wasn’t Aunty Becky from Texas but two stars from Grey’s wishing me a happy birthday. My normal was not normal.
I don’t even get annoyed when people ask me for signed merchandise or if they can come visit the set with me.
One Monday, Lost was filmed in Los Angeles, instead of its usual location in Hawaii, and needed a hospital set. My dad is old friends with the executive producer of Lost, so they arranged for the small unit to use the Grey’s set. I am a Lost nerd. It’s my favorite show of all time. My dad let me skip school that day to go hang out. I was so excited. But I made him promise me that somehow, some way, I would get to meet Matthew Fox. Aptly named, he is one of the most attractive men I have ever laid eyes upon.
We were nearing the end of the day and still no introduction. I met Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse, the creators of Lost, and was unfazed. But when Matthew Fox walked over, my legs got wobbly and I giggled like a schoolgirl.
“It’s very nice to meet you, Hayley.”
He said my name!
I opened my mouth to respond, something simple, maybe “Nice to meet you too.” But nothing came out. Like an idiot, I smiled and giggled.
But Matthew Fox was so nice. He simply apologized, saying that he had to get back to work.
My dad made fun of me all the way home.
My job at the Mission Valley mall has strict rules on employee fraternization. When we’re at work, it needs to be all-business. There’s no room for cross talk at the registers about the party one of us threw the night before.
We’re not even allowed to go out for a drink after work. Sometimes it feels as if the company we work for is afraid we’d waste our coworker chemistry and hate each other the next day.
But my dad’s job has been a hot topic. Every time a new episode airs, a few coworkers who are fans of Grey’s will gush about the plot twists.
“Ugh, Hayley, tell your dad I’m so not okay with the way that whole thing went down…”
“Hayley, we need to talk about the backdrop they used in the fishing episode. That totally didn’t even look real. You need to tell your dad. Immediately.”
Once, I brought in a list of my requested hours on a sheet of old Grey’s stationery. Ever since then, another coworker always asks to visit the set.
“Too bad about the employee fraternization rule or I’d totally ask to go,” she tells me.
One night after a particularly juicy episode of Grey’s, we were cleaning the store. She turned to me and said, “Seriously! I just wanna go on set!”
I laughed and rolled my eyes because this was not the first time I’d had this conversation with her. “You’re the one who is so strict about these rules. I don’t care. Let’s go right now.”
“But we can’t! It’s just not allowed.”
“Okay, I’ve got it!” She jumped up and down. “You quit. Then we go. Then I rehire you.”
I stopped sweeping and looked at her.
She wasn’t finished. “I’m serious! I just wanna go. I promise it’ll be no big deal to get you back in the system. It won’t even be long enough for you to be out of the system, anyways.”
“Um, how about you quit your job, and then we’ll go?”
“Honestly, that’s ridiculous just to go to Grey’s Anatomy. It would be way harder for me to quit and get rehired. Plus, I was just kidding.” She walked away.
She isn’t fooling me. I know she is as serious as the deranged gunman at the end of season six.